Least Favorite Comedy Team?

Open, general discussion of classic sound-era films, personalities and history.
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Harlett O'Dowd

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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostFri Sep 09, 2011 9:19 am

Moran and Mack.

I can turn a blind eye to some racism in old media if I see talent and something actually funny there - but racist AND unfunny is excrutiating.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostFri Sep 09, 2011 9:58 am

I can enjoy their phonograph records- not seeing the blackface helps, plus the bluesy piano in the background makes them interesting.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostFri Sep 09, 2011 11:51 am

I was about to say Keaton and Durante. Buster just seemed to hate being paired with Jimmy, ...'you just can't get Durante to shut up', hehehe.
Only others I can think of in the silents is Karl Dane and George K. Arthur, but I like them. Likewise with Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe.
Also Wally Beery and Raymond Hatton. not sure. How did Ray Hatton get paired up with Wally?
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drednm

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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostFri Sep 09, 2011 12:13 pm

Lum and Abner?

Van and Schenck?

Weber and Fields?
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostFri Sep 09, 2011 12:37 pm

drednm wrote:Lum and Abner?

Van and Schenck?

Weber and Fields?



Lum and Abner- very funny on the radio, less so in pictures

Van and Schenck- I wouldn't call them a comedy team. They were a singing duo that incorporated some jokes into the act. Their film "They Learned About Women" seems to be atypical of their act which otherwise didn't involve a storyline.

Weber and Fields- a very important vaudeville team, some of their recordings can still bring a laugh. They didn't make many films- the team broke up in 1904 and only reunited for a handful of appearances thereafter. (most surviving footage that purports to show the act is actually their imitators Kolb and Dill)
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostFri Sep 09, 2011 1:51 pm

Fox's LILLIAN RUSSELL (1940) is invaluable because it shows a still spry Weber & Fields doing a card game routine; they were both dead within two years. They can also be seen to good advantage in the more elusive DeForest sound films circa 1924.

P.S. I like Wheeler & Woolsey AND the Ritz Bros.

:D
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 11, 2011 1:20 am

I don't find the Three Stooges funny. Never did so, not even as a toddler.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 11, 2011 3:41 pm

chorusgirl wrote:Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis. I can't take it.



I have to agree on that one. Dean Martin was okay away from Jerry Lewis, but I've never been a fan of Jerry Lewis' comedy.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 11, 2011 4:17 pm

Wheeler and Woolsey...did they stink! Woolsey must have have been some studio exec's brother-in-law; it's the only way he could get billing in a feature. Bert Wheeler was just a no talent bum, who must have had compromising pictures of Woolsey's brother-in-law. I know somebody out there thinks these two were funny; you have my sympathy.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 11, 2011 5:19 pm

Bert Wheeler was hardly a "no talent bum," but then we are dealing with a plethora of opinions here.

I don't think anyone has mentioned Olsen & Johnson yet. Other than Johnson laughing it up too much, I find most of their movies not bad at all, especially GHOST CATCHERS, HELLZAPOPPIN' and CRAZY HOUSE.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 11, 2011 5:24 pm

Agreed, Van and Schenck were vaudeville and phonograph talent, and not a comedy duo. In fact, I suspect that their first two Vitaphones of 1926-27 led to a renewal of the Columbia recording contract after they'd been away from records since April 1925. Some do not care for the pairing of a high tenor and a second tenor or baritone, but that type of duet was quite popular from the first decade of the century until the mid-1920's. I can't say that the rather weak crooning of the late 1920's was much of an improvement. Besides, how many singers can provide piano accompaniment and reach those high notes, sitting down, no less?
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 11, 2011 7:05 pm

Some of these folks were much more effective in other media - even at the time it was often said in reviews that X or Y was hilarious in vaudeville but lost something in their film appearances. I quite enjoy Burns and Allen in their radio appearances - their Lux Radio Theatre version of `Dulcy' is a hoot.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 11, 2011 7:27 pm

Burns and Allen are nice in their shorts and as specialty acts in things like INTERNATIONAL HOUSE. I don't think the rest of their films are all that good, with the exception of A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS which takes them out of their usual element.

Their television show is great, though by that time they'd settled into a characterization that they would never depart from. George never changed an iota until the day he died (except to get very slightly raunchy) and had Gracie lived I suspect she'd have remained the same.

That's why I like those early television clips of Bert Wheeler. He definitely altered his style and it worked.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 11, 2011 10:10 pm

I have a Masquers roast tape from the mid-50s and George was more than a little raunchy then, though it doesn't compare with hearing Art Linkletter using the F word.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostMon Sep 12, 2011 3:07 am

Mike Gebert wrote:I have a Masquers roast tape from the mid-50s and George was more than a little raunchy then, though it doesn't compare with hearing Art Linkletter using the F word.



Oh, I can believe he'd have let go at the Masquers, or the Lambs. When his career picked up again in the 1970's his regular act got a little "blue" though there was always something slightly quaint about it.

This American Life had a nice segment by a young woman who accompanied Burns on tour late in his life. He decided to put a reference to "Cupid's Eczema" in a joke- which fell flat. Afterwards he muttered "I'm never gonna use THAT again!"
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostMon Sep 12, 2011 10:00 am

Gonna have to sign on as another who is no fan of Mitchell and Durant.

On the other hand several of the teams who have gotten thumbs down from others in this thread are favorites of mine-(Martin & Lewis, Abbott & Costello, Ham & Bud, Wheeler & Woolsey, Hope & Crosby) so what do I know?!?

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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostMon Sep 12, 2011 11:23 am

josemas wrote:Gonna have to sign on as another who is no fan of Mitchell and Durant.

On the other hand several of the teams who have gotten thumbs down from others in this thread are favorites of mine-(Martin & Lewis, Abbott & Costello, Ham & Bud, Wheeler & Woolsey, Hope & Crosby) so what do I know?!?

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You know what you like. That's all that matters.

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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostMon Sep 12, 2011 7:32 pm

Speaking of comedy teams, see the HBO special with Mel Brooks and Dick Cavett. Carl Reiner is in the audience, and he and Brooks talk about how the "2,000 Year Old Man" got started. It's a piece of comic history.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostTue Sep 13, 2011 5:54 am

Saw it--I could watch this kind of conversation for hours. I wish it never ended.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostTue Sep 13, 2011 6:04 pm

They made 12 shorts together, and while they weren't truly a comedy "team", they were "teamed up" by Hal Roach. Charley Chase and Thelma Todd were as good a comedy team as any male-female team on film. "Pip from Pittsburgh" is the proof; just take a look.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 2:28 pm

I'd have to give the ritz to the Ritz Brothers. Allen and Rossi were excruciating on the Ed Sullivan shows of my youth.

I cannot understand how anyone would pan Hope and Crosby. Bing was to me, a very underrated comedian (and I hear he could sing, too!) History has been far too unkind to him.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 3:49 pm

Some of the Road pictures were great, but the later ones are spotty at best. Hope was best through the 40's- he started fading in the 50's (Fancy Pants is decent but can't compare to The Paleface) and awful by the 60's (Call Me Bwana)

I think that Bing Crosby was similar to Rudy Vallee- both were very canny entertainers and businessmen, and both could act very well within a limited range (Bing was a little better than Rudy). Both should have retired at least a decade before they did.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 4:22 pm

FrankFay wrote:Some of the Road pictures were great, but the later ones are spotty at best. Hope was best through the 40's- he started fading in the 50's (Fancy Pants is decent but can't compare to The Paleface) and awful by the 60's (Call Me Bwana)

I think that Bing Crosby was similar to Rudy Vallee- both were very canny entertainers and businessmen, and both could act very well within a limited range (Bing was a little better than Rudy). Both should have retired at least a decade before they did.


Bing's film work after, say, White Christmas is spotty at best, but his TV and recording work in the 60s and 70s was fine.

Ditto Hope (as you say, falling off in film after Fancy Pants) - but his TV work was still OK for what it was into the 80s. His Last couple of specials, though were painful to sit through. Someone should have been able to tell him it was time to retire.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostWed Sep 14, 2011 4:35 pm

[quote="Harlett O'Dowd"
Bing's film work after, say, White Christmas is spotty at best, but his TV and recording work in the 60s and 70s was fine.

Ditto Hope (as you say, falling off in film after Fancy Pants) - but his TV work was still OK for what it was into the 80s. His Last couple of specials, though were painful to sit through. Someone should have been able to tell him it was time to retire.[/quote]

I agree, in spots. Crosby continued to sing well after his acting got spotty....he was always a vocalist first, actor second.

Hope had a few good moments in his later career, but the bad stuff predominated. He did perk up a bit for interviews.. he was on the Dick Cavett Show with some dancers and he showed that he could still do a few vaudeville steps- and they all laughed at evidence he'd gone by the name "Lester T. Hope" for a while.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 6:36 am

Frank Mitchell and Jack Durant both became very good character players. Durant is especially good as The Noodle in FOUR JACKS AND A JILL. Durant apparently appeared on an episode of LAUGH-IN. I'd love to see that!
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostThu Sep 15, 2011 6:46 am

Phillyrich wrote:I'd have to give the ritz to the Ritz Brothers. Allen and Rossi were excruciating on the Ed Sullivan shows of my youth.


Well, I watched them recently on the DVD of Beatles episodes of the Sullivan show, and Allen was pretty good. Rossi, as I said before, was just a chuckling straight man, a low-rent Dean Martin putting in time with Jerry Lewis. But when they came on, they were the only guests other than the Beatles to demonstrate any sparkle.

I wouldn't want a steady diet of them, though!

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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostFri Sep 16, 2011 11:29 am

Hope and Crosby weren't a "comedy team" -- they were two actor/comedians who worked together a number of times in a semi-series of 7 films, of which 6 of the 7 are pretty widely considered (not just me) pretty above-average comedies.

About Hope dropping off after Fancy Pants--in my opinion I strongly disagree, since The Lemon Drop Kid, My Favorite Spy, Son of Paleface (one of Hope's best, and better than its predecessor in many opinions) and Road to Bali all came immediately after Fancy Pants, and are far funnier films (Fancy Pants is a decent remake of the far superior Ruggles of Red Gap, but still suffers in comparison). And Off Limits, Casanova's Big Night and Seven Little Foys are at least equal to or better than Fancy Pants. Really, Hope on film had a pretty remarkable run of quality from The Cat and the Canary in 1939 until the mid-50's, after Seven Little Foys. During that 15-ish year run, about the only outright clinkers in my opinion are Let's Face It (1943) and Here Come the Girls (1953). Certainly from That Certain Feeling (1956) on there's more bad than good, mostly because of the gross mishandling of Hope's character in his aging years (only occasionally like Facts of Life--pretty much his last gasp on film--did he have the right sort of material that fit his age).
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostFri Sep 16, 2011 12:33 pm

I agree with you- I put Hope's demise rather too early,though when he went bad he went BAD- they stopped giving him anything like actual dialogue & just plugged one liners into him.
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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSat Sep 17, 2011 11:51 pm

Just saw Smith and Dale in Manhattan Parade and they were pretty painful.

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Re: Least Favorite Comedy Team?

PostSun Sep 18, 2011 4:16 am

greta de groat wrote:Just saw Smith and Dale in Manhattan Parade and they were pretty painful.

greta



I saw them in The Heart Of New York (1932) and though they were pretty good as feuding partners. Their comedy always was the sort that depended on "so bad that they're good" jokes:

Waiter is this pie apple or peach?- they both look the same!

Taste it

They both taste the same

What did you order?

Peach

Then eat it- it's Peach!
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